Fragile Defenses

Fragile Defenses - Hip Pads and Elbow Stingers

Glazed earthenware with pink slip, satin, leather lacing, elastic band, hook-and-eye closures.

This piece is a wearable manifestation of the unconscious guards we construct to protect

ourselves, especially during intimate interactions. The hip armour and elbow stingers are metaphorical attire which we all possess. However, the crux of this work is the actual fragility of these guards. This work explores other contradictions as well: weakness versus resiliency, dainty versus grotesque, vulnerability versus protection, and exposed versus private.

An alternative narrative I began daydreaming of while making the piece in 2014. I did not write down or share this narrative at the time.

Scene Idea: Daughter is given her ceramic amour, begins menstrual-tracking-necklace ritual, learns about ‘Womanhood’ from mother.

Matrilineal tradition in which mother makes daughter’s (first) set of Intimacy Armor1 and presents it upon her menarche. Knowledge of the craft and its wisdom is passed down from mother to child. The relationship to menstruation is implied and obvious but not actually stated. However, oblique mentions of rape and sexual violence are made; though in low, solemn- bordering-on-angry tones. The civilization they are Other/abject to is conservative and repressed. They are not.

Daughter stands and we see blood on her underwear. We are pretty sure it’s not from violence or sex...

Fade out.

Recasting the value of virginity and of consent.

{fragile defense mechanisms, intimacy as dangerous, octopus mother dies after eggs hatch, bees can only sting once, the birds and the bees}

Allison Arkush